What drives creativity?

mere productivity cannot be the goal, nor can creative productivity be reached by force

What drives creativity?
Photo by RhondaK Native Florida Folk Artist on Unsplash

What Drives Creativity?

Mere productivity cannot be the goal, nor can creative productivity be reached by force

Literary works cannot be taken over like factories, or literary forms of expression like industrial methods.
Bertolt Brecht

One of the thing’s that I’ve missed most about life during COVID is the ability to go out to coffee shops. I used to do a lot of my writing to the background hum of life doing what life does. The ambiance of friends talking, lovers murmuring, china chinking formed the palette from which I drew the colors that infused my written worlds.

Now, I find myself working to the sound of cafe ambiance pumped through headphones by ASMR uploaders on YouTube. Studies have shown that ambient noise might actually make us more creative — from a completely personal anecdotal level I jive with this completely.

But what is it about the experience of a coffee house that really gets to the heart of things? As I pondered this over a number of days, continuing to write by cafe ambiance, the realization dawned: it’s the distractions. I miss being distracted by conversations, by pets, even by screaming babies. I miss the hum of impersonal and yet deeply intimate life which takes place in public spaces — specifically those with the cafe atmosphere.

Artistic expression is not something which one can turn on like a faucet — though experience does beget a greater skill with laying down the basics. Our society often overvalues a productivity-centered approach to life where the goal and outcome are more important than the process. But for art, it is the process of living which adds the depth and vitality capable of moving people’s souls. That depth is strained from the billion little interactions of daily living. The silences as well as the noises. The comforts as well as the despairs.

I think that we can learn something from the way creatives get their ideas — I think we should take something from this. That mere productivity cannot be the goal, nor can creative productivity be reached by force. A subtle sidling from the diagonal places of the world is instead required; a holistic osmosis by which creativity can be reached accidentally from out of the patchwork fabric of our reality.

Pause for a moment and consider the question. What drives creativity in your life? Where do your ideas come from? Once you start asking the right sorts of questions, the whole world begins to move.

Hi there! I’m Odin Halvorson, a librarian, independent scholar, film fanatic, fiction author, and tech enthusiast. If you like my work and want to support me, please consider becoming a paid subscriber for as little as $2.50 a month!

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